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Smoggy Politics

June 19, 1986

Smog is nasty stuff, and politics can be. So when you mix them you can get an acrid reaction that will make you hold your nose a block away.

A case in point is that of Sabrina Schiller, who sits on the South Coast Air Quality District board of directors as a "public" representative, appointed by the California Senate Rules Committee.

Schiller is not your average smooth politician, working the crowd, going along to get along, patting backs or scratching them. She knows how air gets dirty, who gets it that way and who ought to be doing what to clean it up. She is not a clean-air activist with a lot of patience for dirty air, and even some environmentalists think that she comes on too strong for her own good or that of the cause.

Still, the move to get rid of her because she talked in less than glowing terms about the voting records of some local politicians makes you want to hold your nose. Sen. Ruben S. Ayala (D-Chino) is the leader of the move. We have not seen any claim by the senator that she got her facts wrong. As he says, it was a case of her going into his district and "agitating the troops." Off with her badge.

This is a rather feudal approach to the democratic process. It would be one thing if Ayala were saying that Schiller fibbed about the voting records. It is another to argue--as he seems to--that because he helped vote her onto the air board she shouldn't agitate the troops in his senatedom.

At least Ayala is directly involved. It was his senatedom. But is that a concept that other senators, including President Pro Tem David Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who seem prepared to confiscate Schiller's badge, are really prepared to go along with?

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